Self-esteem, self-presentation, and future Interaction: A dilemma of reputation


  • Experiments 1 and 2 were based on a doctoral dissertation submitted to Princeton University. The author acknowledges his immense debt and gratitude to Dr. Edward E. Jones, the dissertation chairman. The author also wishes to thank Dr. G. E. Swan-son. Address reprint requests to Roy Baumeister, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 44106.


The influence of chronic self-esteem on self-presentation was explored. Male subjects were confronted with an experimentally created reputation, in the form of public (bogus) feedback from a personality assessment. High self-esteem subjects used compensatory self-enhancement in their self-descriptions and behaved in ways contrary to what their reputations would imply. Low self-esteem subjects did not employ compensatory self-enhancement. Moreover, the behavior of low self-esteem subjects conformed to the randomly generated feedback when it (the feedback) was public but not when it was confidential. The expectation of future interaction was shown to be a mediating variable.